Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

To the bat cave: Researchers reconstruct evolution of bat migration with aid of mathematical model

Date:
November 24, 2009
Source:
Max Planck Institute for Ornithology
Summary:
Not just birds, but also a few species of bats face a long journey every year. Researchers have studied the migratory behavior of the largest extant family of bats, the so-called "Vespertilionidae" with the help of mathematical models. They discovered that the migration over short as well as long distances of various kinds of bats evolved independently within the family.

Evening or vesper bat (Vespertillo murinus).
Credit: Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Radolfzell

Not just birds, but also a few species of bats face a long journey every year. Researchers at Princeton University in the U.S. and at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Radolfzell, Germany studied the migratory behaviour of the largest extant family of bats, the Vespertilionidae with the help of mathematical models. They discovered that the migration over short as well as long distances of various kinds of bats evolved independently within the family.

Related Articles


Most people know the term of "migrating bird" but "migrating bat" is not very established. However, some bat species migrate every year long or short distances. Whereas birds migrate to exploit seasonal food resources, the majority of bats migrate with the intention to find better hibernating conditions.

In Europe about 30 percent and in North America around 45 percent of bird species migrate; the migration of bats however is a rather rare phenomenon. Only about three percent of the approximately 1,000 bat species migrate, of those less than 0.016 percent migrate further than 1,000 kilometers. The vast majority of bats of the temperate zone hibernate during winter, as a result of the food shortage at this time.

Together, researchers of the University of Princeton in the U.S. and the Max-Planck Institute for Ornithology have analyzed the genealogical tree of bats on the basis of their migratory behavior. They are confining themselves to only the family of the Vespertilionidae, also called the vespertilionid bats, which includes 316 species or about a third of all bat species. Of about 32 migrating bat species, 23 are part of this family. Eleven of those migrate over long distances longer than 1,000 kilometers. The remaining twelve only fly short distances that vary between 100 and 1,000 kilometers.

The researchers revealed that the migratory behavior over long and short distance evolved repeatedly and for the most part independently within the family of vespertilionid bats. Kamran Safi, one of the authors of the study says: "according to the model, the probability for the vespertilionid bats to loose or gain their residential habitat is the same as becoming a short or long distance migrant." The migratory behavior of the bats could be more complex than previously assumed. The evolution as well as the loss of the migratory behavior is probably based on the fast evolutionary adaptation that is caused by climate changes or changes in the social life of the bat.

The scientist of the Max-Planck Institute have said, "We assume that the evolution of the migratory behavior of the vespertilionid bats is an answer to the sinking temperatures in their habitats, which made a temporary migration into warmer areas necessary. In contrast, for the migratory behavior of the bird it is generally hypothesized that tropical species expand to different areas. The evolution of the migratory behavior enabled access to new resources, and as a result the density of the bats increased rapidly."

Most of the verspertilionidae are originally from the temperate zone and not from the tropics. In addition, researchers discovered that there is a correlation between migration and roost use as well as between migration and geographic distribution. Furthermore tree roosting bats are more likely to migrate than cave roosting species. A possible reason for this behavior is the difficulty for bats to find suitable hibernating conditions in trees.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Max Planck Institute for Ornithology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Isabelle-Anne Bisson, Kamran Safi, Richard A. Holland. Evidence for Repeated Independent Evolution of Migration in the Largest Family of Bats. PLoS ONE, 2009; 4 (10): e7504 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007504

Cite This Page:

Max Planck Institute for Ornithology. "To the bat cave: Researchers reconstruct evolution of bat migration with aid of mathematical model." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091118120307.htm>.
Max Planck Institute for Ornithology. (2009, November 24). To the bat cave: Researchers reconstruct evolution of bat migration with aid of mathematical model. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091118120307.htm
Max Planck Institute for Ornithology. "To the bat cave: Researchers reconstruct evolution of bat migration with aid of mathematical model." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091118120307.htm (accessed March 28, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) — A lioness in Pakistan has given birth to five cubs, twice the usual size of a litter. Queen gave birth to two other cubs just nine months ago. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) — Using motion tracking technology, researchers from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) are trying to establish an optimum horse riding style to train junior jockeys, as well as enhance safety, health and well-being of both racehorses and jockeys. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bear Cubs Tumble for the Media

Bear Cubs Tumble for the Media

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) — Two Andean bear cubs are unveiled at the U.S. National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Alicia Powell reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Botswana Talks to End Illegal Wildlife Trade

Botswana Talks to End Illegal Wildlife Trade

AFP (Mar. 25, 2015) — Experts are gathering in Botswana to try to end the illegal wildlife trade that is decimating populations of elephants, rhinos and other threatened species. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins